The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is actively supporting the Ministry of Public Health through the Food Policy Division to revise the 2004 food based dietary guidelines for Guyana (FBDGs).
A multi-sector task force comprising representatives from government ministries, the Bureau of Standards, Bureau of Statistics, PAHO/WHO, UNICEF and the Rights of the Child Commission met on June 7, 2017 to plan for the launch of the revised FBDGs.
During the one day session, members of the task forced worked to pretest some of the promotion material, plan a programme of activities for the launch and finalize implementation plans for specific settings including schools, community and market/food retailers.
What are the FBDGs?
According to the FAO, Food-based dietary guidelines (also known as dietary guidelines) are intended to establish a basis for public food and nutrition, health and agricultural policies and nutrition education programmes to foster healthy eating habits and lifestyles. They provide advice on foods, food groups and dietary patterns to provide the required nutrients to the general public to promote overall health and prevent chronic diseases.
The first process of developing FBDGs for Guyana started in 2002 and the guidelines were subsequently launched in 2004. The process was spearheaded by the Food Policy Division - MOH with support from a multisectoral FBDG Committee/Task force with the then Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI) providing technical support. Those first guidelines targeted the healthy population over two (2) years of age and were fully endorsed by the Ministry of Health.In 2016 the Food Policy Division of the Ministry of Public Health requested assistance from FAO to revise the guidelines. Since then, there have been several activities aimed at revising and disseminating the new guidelines including a situation analysis of the Health and Nutrition Profile of Guyana, which helped to examine and diagnose the health and nutrition status of the population. Through this process it was determined that the nutritional guidelines were set to address the prevention and reduction of the priority risks and challenges identified in the situation analysis and for the promotion of healthy diets and lifestyles.
A group of nutritionists and dieticians were then tasked with developing technical recommendations to define nutrition goals and to also identify the types and quantities of food that the population should eat. This process was followed by a period of behaviour field testing to ascertain the populations’ willingness and ability to meet recommendations and to identify appropriate language and graphic recommendation. The revised FBDGs were developed for the general population but directed towards the healthy segment of the population.
The FBDGs for Guyana is expected to be launched later in 2017.